Rachel Ruffalo

Senior Director of Strategic Advocacy

Rachel Ruffalo (she/her) serves as the Senior Director of Strategic Advocacy at EdTrust-West. Rachel’s career in education spans more than twenty-five years of serving as a teacher, new school developer, school leader, strategy consultant, researcher, and advocate. Through these various roles, Rachel has been committed to pursuing equity and social justice through education. As a first-generation college student, Rachel experienced the transformative power of education within her own family.

Rachel began her career as a high school history teacher at her alma mater, Gilroy High School, going on to serve as a founding teacher, school leader, and strategy consultant for Environmental Charter Schools (ECS), an independent charter school network serving primarily Black and Latinx students living in poverty in Los Angeles County. As a school leader, Rachel led ECS’ institutional effectiveness work, including accreditation, charter renewal, program evaluation, and the development of the English Language Development program. Later, as a strategy and development consultant, Rachel contributed to the growth of the network of schools by researching and adapting research-based best practices to develop and improve new schools and programs.

Rachel joined EdTrust-West in April 2017 and has served as a Senior Practice Associate and Director of Educator Engagement. Rachel has led ETW’s STEM equity strategy and has deepened the organization’s multilingual learner advocacy. With her team, Rachel has grown ETW’s engagements to include the Educator Advisory Council, communities of practice, and engagements with county offices of education, while continuing to improve and build upon ETW’s long history of systemic equity reviews and blueprint planning processes with school districts. These engagements with educators have become central to informing ETW’s policy priorities and monitoring the implementation and impact of state policies on educators and students.

Rachel holds a B.A. in history, an M.A. in education (Policy, Organization, and Leadership Studies) from Stanford University, and an M.Ed. in teaching and curriculum from Harvard University.


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  • Oakland, CA
Multilingual Learners / English Learners
Math Education and Curriculum Development
Policy Analysis & Development

Karla Fernandez

Communications Manager

Karla Fernandez (she/her/hers) joins Ed Trust–West as a Communications Manager with over 11 years of experience advancing social impact initiatives.

Karla started her career as a teacher at Chicago Public Schools and UIC College Prep. After teaching, Karla joined United Friends of the Children to support LA County’s youth in foster care as a college counselor. Through Leadership for Educational Equity, Karla also served as a Policy Advisor Fellow for the office of a Los Angeles Unified School Board Member. She solidified her interests in policy analysis and quantitative research during her time with the Price Center for Social Innovation, the Housing Authority of the City of Los Angeles, and the USC Presidential Working Group on Sustainability. Before joining The Education Trust–West, Karla was the Associate Director for the Southeast Los Angeles (SELA) Collaborative, a network of nonprofits advocating for communities in SELA.

Karla holds a Bachelor’s Degree in Anthropology from the University of Chicago, a Master of Public Policy from the USC Price School of Public Policy, and a Graduate Certificate in Policy Advocacy from the USC Annenberg School for Communication and Journalism. Karla is based out of southern California and is passionate about using data analysis, communications, and digital strategies for policy advocacy and social justice efforts.